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Ka-Ching! is a book of poems that explores America’s obsession with money. It also includes a crown of sonnets about e-bay, sestinas on the subjects of Sean Penn and the main characters of fairytales, a pantoum that riffs on a childhood riddle, and a villanelle inspired by bathroom grafitti.
The 1980s brought a whirlwind of change to Communist Party politics and the Soviet Republic. By mid-decade, Gorbachev's policies of perestroika and glasnost had opened the door to democratic reform. Later, mounting public unrest over the failed economy and calls for independence among many republics ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Often overlooked in these events, yet monumental to breaking the Communist Party's institutional stranglehold, were the KGB anticorruption campaigns of 1982 to 1987. In this original study, Luc Duhamel examines the KGB at its pinnacle of power. The appointment of former KGB director Yuri Andropov as general secretary of the Communist Party in 1982 marked the height of KGB influence. For the first time since Stalin, Beria, and the NKVD, there was now an unquestioned authority to pursue violators of Soviet law, including members of the Communist Party. Duhamel focuses on the KGB's investigation into Moscow's two largest trade organizations: the Chief Administration of Trade and the Administration of the Moscow Fruit and Vegetable Office. Like many of their Soviet counterparts, these state-controlled institutions were built on a foundation of bribery and favoritism among Communist Party members, workers, and their bosses. This book analyzes the multifarious networks of influence peddling, appointments, and clientelism that pervaded these trade organizations and maintained their ties to party officials. Duhamel uncovers the indictment of thousands of trade organization employees, the reprimand of Communist Party members, and the radical change in political ideology manifested by these proceedings. He further reveals that despite aggressive prosecutions, the KGB's power would soon wither, as the agency came under intense scrutiny because of its violent methods and the ghosts of the NKVD.
Philadelphia’s Urban Sphere and Its Environmental Thresholds
While Richard Shelton has been known primarily for his poems dealing with the landscape of the Southwest and the destruction of that landscape, the poems in this book are much more far-ranging, including many poems dealing with soocial issues (the issue of illegal immigration on our southern border, homelessness), historical events (the war in Iraq, the events of 9/11) and attitudes concerning politics and the environment. The poems are filled with sensory images, engaged in the real world, often ironic or simply off-the-wall, and their tone ranges from deeply sad, as in a requiem for Glen Canyon on the Colorado River, to the wildly funny, as in Brief Communications from My widowed Mother.
An Idea with Poems and Translations
Leaping Poetry is Robert Bly's testament to the importance of the artistic leap that bridges the gap between conscious and unconscious thought in any great work of art. Part anthology and part commentary, Bly seeks to rejuvenate modern Western poetry through his revelations of “leaping” as found in the works of poets from around the world, while also outlining the basic principles that shape his own poetry.
Symmetry, Asymmetry, and Literary Humanism
In this book, Walter H. Beale seeks to bring together the disciplines of linguistics, rhetoric, and literary studies through the concept of symmetry (how words mirror thought, society, and our vision of the world). Citing thinkers from antiquity to the present, Beale provides an in-depth study of linguistic theory, development, and practice. He views the historic division between the schools of symmetry and asymmetry (a belief that language developed as a structure independent of human experience), as built into the character of language itself, and as an impediment to literary humanism (the combined study of language, rhetoric, and literature to improve the competence and character of the individual). In his analysis, Beale outlines and critiques traditional claims of symmetry, then offers new avenues of approach to the subject. In doing so, he examines how important issues of human culture and consciousness have parallels in processes of language; how linguistic patterns relate to pervasive human problems; how language is an active participant in the expression, performance, and construction of reality; the concepts of designating versus naming; figurative language as a process of reenvisioning reality; and the linking of style to virtue by the ancients. Beale concludes that both asymmetrical and symmetrical elements exist in language, each with their own relevance, and that they are complementary, rather than opposing philosophies. The basic intuitions of symmetry that relate language to life are powerful and important to all of English studies. Combined with a love for the workings, sounds, and structures of language, Beale says, an understanding of symmetry can help guide the pursuit of literary humanism.
Crime and Terror in the Latin American Cultural Text
Ileana Rodríguez considers several Latin American nations that govern under the name of liberalism yet display a shocking range of nondemocratic features. In her political, cultural, and philosophical analysis, she examines these environments in which liberalism seems to have reached its limits, as the universalizing project gives way to rampant nonstate violence, gross inequality, and neocolonialism. Focusing on Guatemala, Colombia, and Mexico, Rodríguez shows how standard liberal models fail to account for new forms of violence and exploitation, which in fact follow from specific clashes between liberal ideology and local practice. Looking at these tensions within the ostensibly well-ordered state, Rodríguez exposes how the misunderstanding and misuse of liberal principles are behind realities of political turmoil, and questions whether liberalism is in fact an ideology sufficient to empower populations and transition nation-states into democratic roles in the global order. In this way, Liberalism at Its Limits offers a critical examination of the forced fitting of liberal models to Latin American nations and reasserts cross-cultural communication as crucial to grasping the true link between varying systems of value and politics.
Water and the Making of the Modern City
As people crowded into British cities in the nineteenth century, industrial and biological waste byproducts and then epidemic followed. Britons died by the thousands in recurring plagues. Figures like Edwin Chadwick and John Snow pleaded for measures that could save lives and preserve the social fabric. The solution that prevailed was the novel idea that British towns must build public water supplies, replacing private companies. But the idea was not an obvious or inevitable one. Those who promoted new waterworks argued that they could use water to realize a new kind of British society—a productive social machine, a new moral community, and a modern civilization. They did not merely cite the dangers of epidemic or scarcity. Despite many debates and conflicts, this vision won out—in town after town, from Birmingham to Liverpool to Edinburgh, authorities gained new powers to execute municipal water systems. But in London local government responded to environmental pressures with a plan intended to help remake the metropolis into a collectivist society. The Conservative national government, in turn, sought to impose a water administration over the region that would achieve its own competing political and social goals. The contestants over London’s water supply matched divergent strategies for administering London’s water with contending visions of modern society. And the matter was never pedestrian. The struggle over these visions was joined by some of the most colorful figures of the late Victorian period, including John Burns, Lord Salisbury, Bernard Shaw, and Sidney and Beatrice Webb. As Broich demonstrates, the debate over how to supply London with water came to a head when the climate itself forced the endgame near the end of the nineteenth century. At that decisive moment, the Conservative party succeeded in dictating the relationship between water, power, and society in London for many decades to come.
“Sometimes we have questions that seem to defy answers or even suppositions but then we find Love and Strange Horses to help us map out a course to continue loving life. A really wonderful, thoughtful read by an intriguing new voice.” —Nikki Giovanni